, Derry, New Hampshire

August 1, 2013

Tree-huggers hope to save part of orchards

Activists try to save some of Woodmont's apple trees

By Alex Lippa

---- — LONDONDERRY — To Mary Tetreau, the apple trees at Woodmont Orchards are a key part of Londonderry’s history.

The apple trees are one of the signature sights along Apple Way, a state-declared scenic byway, but they may not be up for much longer.

As part of the massive plans for Woodmont Commons, more than 10,000 apple trees could be chopped down. Tetreau knows she won’t be able to save them all, but she’s pleading for at least some of them to be preserved.

“Londonderry is a suburb which is known for apples,” she said. “All we want is for some links to the past to stay up.”

Tetreau hopes to save 609 of the trees and turn it into a park. She has formed an organization, Save Woodmont Apple Trees, and the group is organizing its first event on Sunday.

SWAT members will gather at the corner of Gilcreast and Pillsbury Roads and hug the trees in an effort to get the developer to preserve 19 acres of the land.

“This event is primarily to give attention to our cause,” Tetreau said. “We need to get the word out.”

Resident Jack Falvey has been recruiting people to support the group. He said a realistic expectation was for about 100 people to show up Sunday at 2 p.m.

“That would be more than enough and it would show the true colors of the town,” he said.

Falvey said he had spoken to a Pinkerton Academy graduate, now living in New Jersey, who plans to come to Londonderry this weekend to participate in the rally.

“It just the shows the history and importance this piece of land has on people,” he said.

Tetreau said she has started social media campaigns and talked to leaders of local citizen groups.

“It’s not the type of thing where we get RSVPs,” she said. “It’s more like a rally. Whoever shows up is welcome.”

Tetreau said participants will form a “group hug,” holding hands around the trees. Attendees are encouraged to take photos of themselves hugging the trees. There will also be a picnic and apple cider will be served.

The group hopes the rally will get the attention of Michael Kettenbach of Pillsbury Realty Development. Kettenbach wants to bring thousands of homes, retail spaces, offices and medical facilities to the 639-acre parcel.

Kettenbach has pledged to conserve 40 percent of that property, but SWAT hopes they will take special consideration to land along Gilcreast Road.

He could not be reached for comment.

“It’s a viewshed on a busy road,” Tetreau said. “We want people to be able to see and use the land.”

The land is used for biking and cross-country skiing.

The plan for the project has been under discussion with the Planning Board since Kettenbach bought the land in 2010.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Aug. 14 , during which the developer will discuss the master plan for the land, including his plans for open space.